Tension on Lead Can Result in Pulling.

A short story about two nine-month-old Labrador sisters. They are bouncy, enthusiastic and friendly, perfect given their breed and their age.

Tension off leads for happy walksThe main problems are jumping up at people and pulling on lead. Walks are causing the gentleman considerable stress. For reasons not relevant here, he only took over walking them a week or so ago. Continue reading…

No Impulse Control Around People. Jumps and Bites.

Beau has no impulse control around peopleAbsolutely no impulse control around people, that is the problem.

Beautiful Beau is a big strong Chocolate Labrador. He’s 9 months of age and his teeth hurt. With no impulse control, his biting and grabbing of my clothes would have been nearly constant had not the lady held him back. It was a struggle for her.

I have to call it ‘biting’ because he was using his teeth with some force, but there was no aggression behind it. No growling or hostility. There wasn’t fear either though possibly the level of his arousal involved more than just pleasure to see me. He will have been uncertain as well.

Jumping, biting and no impulse control has become his default response for dealing with the excitement he feels.

Both the lady and her adult son are accustomed to being bitten when Beau gets too excited. He bites sufficiently hard to bruise but not to break skin. He was an unusually nippy and bitey puppy. Like many people, they will unwittingly have encouraged teeth on human flesh through play – contact sports using their hands.

No impulse control.

A stitch in time saves nine, as they say. If, from the outset when Beau was a little puppy, both jumping up and grabbing with teeth were consistently and persistently met with no reinforcement but an acceptable alternative offered, he wouldn’t be doing it now.

Tug of war played properly is a much better game. Puppy has to learn that if teeth even unintentionally touch flesh, all fun immediately stops. He then learns to be careful.

Usually dogs like this will have very high stress levels and constantly be ready to ‘explode’. This doesn’t seem the case with Beau. His home is calm. Generally he’s no more excited than any other 9-month-old Labrador, but when he does get aroused, it’s always teeth.

Beau is given plenty of enrichment and he’s not left alone for too long. He doesn’t do the usual things that build stress in a dog such as excessive barking, getting over-excited before a walk and panicking when left alone.

It’s all around people

He has no impulse control around people. When someone comes to his house or if they meet people when out on a walk he morphs into a different dog.

Why does he find people quite so stimulating, I wonder? He has been very well socialised from the start.

The lady so much wants to have social walks with her lovely dog and to invite friends round, but she can’t because he bites them! Things are getting worse. Could this be that she herself is becoming increasingly anxious? As I sat with her in the kitchen, I could feel her very understandable tension and anxiety. If I could feel it, then so would Beau.

Having been rehearsing the biting and jumping for months since he was a small puppy, it will now be learned behaviour – a habit.

How can we break it?

Learned behaviour – a habit.

What we have to work on is both the cause of the behaviour as well as the behaviour itself – and this cause is over-excitement around people and no self-control when aroused.

To succeed, Beau must be prevented from rehearsing the biting anymore in every way possible. It simply has to be made impossible. Without an experienced professional actually living with them with nothing else to do than work with Beau, I can see no other way than extensive use of a basket muzzle to begin with. When he gets his ‘rough’ times at home with his family, when friends visit and when he’s out and likely to encounter people, his mouth has to be taken out of action.

This will be much better than banishing him.

A basket muzzle is best because he has freedom open and close his mouth, to drink and to eat treats. If introduced properly so that it’s always associated with good things, he shouldn’t mind it too much. I know this could be controversial.

Without now being hurt, they must now teach him different habits and better ways of getting attention. He also needs better ways of relieving his quick-building arousal and frustration levels. In removing the ability to bite from his repertoire, they need to supply replacement activities and outlets.

I suggested a gate for the kitchen so at times when he’s likely to use his teeth or when people come, he can go behind it with something acceptable to chew until he has calmed down. Use of ‘No’ and ‘Down’ can only increase his frustration whilst in a way being reinforcing to him as well.

Self control.

When I was there, Beau held lead on harness to prevent the biting of me, we constantly used his food to reinforce every moment of desired behaviour.  He sat, he got food. He lay down and was silently rolled a piece of his kibble.

The emphasis must now be on reinforcing the behaviour that they DO want. People, when out, will be kept at whatever distance is necessary while they work on his self-control using positive reinforcement. He will learn that sitting or standing calmly brings dividends but this is only possible when not too close.

Jumping and biting is simply Beau’s default both when aroused or when feeling unsure of himself – both at home and when out on walks.

We shouldn’t underestimate the effectiveness of a dog having something in his mouth where the teeth are, whether it’s a ball, something that squeaks or even a bone! It all depends – all dogs are different.

What actually is excitement anyway and is it always pure joy? Wouldn’t we feel excited on a Big Dipper? Wouldn’t we be feeling scared before a bungee jump and isn’t that part of the buzz?

As Beau gains some self control and is helped to calm down around people, the muzzle can be used less and less until it’s no longer necessary.


NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approaches I have worked out for Beau. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. The muzzle idea may be totally inappropriate in another case. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page).


Successful Integration of a Third Dog

Integration of the new dog needs some forward planning.

This is just Chapter One of a story that I’m sure will have a very happy ending, even if there are one or two challenges along the way.

Integration of Chocolate Labrador


The gentleman is doing his best to foresee every possible eventuality.

A family member is no longer able to care for three-year-old Chocolate Labrador, Max, and in a week or so the young dog is moving in with his own two very elderly dogs, Oscar and Ellie.

The oldest, Oscar, is now fifteen years old, a Labrador Collie mix. He’s a gorgeous old boy but is now losing his sight and hearing and is on a high dose of pain meds for arthritis and other things. He walks slowly.

Ellie, thirteen, is more lively and still has a mind of her own – having overtaken Oscar in this respect.

Both dogs are understandably fixed in their ways. They have their favourite lying-down places and their established eating places. They have a routine for when they are left and a routine for night time – Oscar can no longer make it up the stairs.

There is something enchanting about an old dog.

Ellie historically has had a couple of fallings-out with other dogs so it’s not a foregone conclusion that she will take immediately to an energetic young interloper.

The integration will initially require Max to be safely separate when the dogs are left at home alone, at night time and when eating. This means the old dogs’ routines will necessarily be changing a bit.

Ellie and Oscar

It’s a lot better to do this in advance so that it reduces the upheavel when the time comes. It’s only fair to disrupt the old dogs’ to the minimum at this stage in their lives.

So, they will now have a week or so acclimatising to a few changes. They will now remain sitting room behind a gate when left alone and at night – they had freedom before. One dog will need to get used to eating in a different place so that Max can be fed by himself. Neither dog wears a collar indoors but Ellie may later need something to get hold of, so she can wear hers for a few days to get her used to that.


We discussed ‘Integration Day’ in detail.

In addition to preparing the ground beforehand, we have planned that first meeting and then what happens after with the three dogs actually living together in the same house.

I am very fortunate to have friends in the ISCP who have spent years involved in fostering older dogs and I have drawn on their experience to get the initial introductions right.



Because Oscar can’t walk far, it presented problems regarding my usual method of dogs meeting in an open and neutral space. However, it can be done near home, outside the house. The meeting will be carefully choreographed, the dogs not only introduced in a certain order and in a rehearsed way, but also returning back into the house in a particular order also.

What happens then? It depends.

If all is well the dogs will go straight out into the garden together, calmly supervised, to continue getting to know one another.

It’s probable Max may be little too boisterous and need gentle restraining – we mustn’t forget it’s a big unpheavel for him as well. I suspect Oscar will be exhausted. We will see.

If all doesn’t go so well for some reason, then they have two gated rooms and the dogs can pass behind gates and get used to one another more gradually.

I will be back with Chapter Two to tell you how the introduction did go and how the three dogs are fitting in together.

  Six days later – the introduction  



NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for these three dogs. I don’t go into detail. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly, making sure that we are dealing with the real causes of barking. I also provide moral support and they will probably need it for a while. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page)

When People Come to Front Door

Chocolate Labrador mixKiki, a Chocolate Labrador mixed with a small bit of something else – Doberman perhaps – has had several homes in her two-and-a-half years. At one she had been tied up most of the time and muzzled – most likely to prevent her from chewing anything including herself.

She is a lovely, gentle dog which is quite surprising in the circumstances and what a very different life she has now! Much of her unruliness has now been resolved due to the efforts of her new owners. They have had her for nine months, and in this time she has been to training classes, become very well socialised with other dogs and is taken for at least one long walk every day.

They have transformed Kiki to a happy dog from a frightened, fretful little thing, overweight by 10kg & with mange where she had tried to scratch the muzzle off.

It is just possible, in my mind, that she’s getting too much stimulation now because at times when you would think she should be tired, she relapses into attention-seeking behaviours where she can control and predict her humans’ reactions. Her favourite is to steal things from the kitchen. She then runs them a merry dance until they corner her and remove the item. This is where many dogs become defensive and a bit scared, leading to growling or biting but fortunately this just isn’t in Kiki’s nature at all.

What the lady is still struggling with the most is Kiki’s behaviour when someone comes to the front door. She gets very excited indeed, barking frantically, obviously fearful and she may pee. Her hackles go up. Her previous foster carers used a shaker bottle and then water spray, but Kiki’s new owners quickly abandoned that unkind approach, knowing that it simply made her more stressed. They have tried feeding her and more recently, unsuccessfully, to get her to sit and stay back from the door when they open it.

When I arrived they held onto her collar because she may also decide to run off down the road. She calmed down very quickly indeed as she became engrossed in sniffing me for the smell of my own dogs and I just stood still until she had relaxed. She was then a dream.

The problem with all the things that they have tried is they don’t take consideration of the emotions inside Kiki that are driving her to behave like this. The behaviour itself isn’t the real problem. If it’s fear, then punishing fear with a shaker bottle can only make it worse. If it’s fear or extreme arousal of any kind, then sitting quietly is an unreasonable ask.

I take a more psychological approach. People arriving at the door, particularly people a dog doesn’t know well, can be very stressful. A dog could be feeling that they should be ‘vetting’ the intruder. A lot of incidents happen in doorways from over-excited dogs jumping up at people to dogs controlling entrances so another dog may not dare walk through, to over-aroused dogs redirecting onto one another and fighting when someone walks through the door, and so on.

Kiki’s humans should, in my mind, to take full responsibility for comings and goings to their house. They are the ‘parents/protectors’ after all. We know that she gets very stressed if shut behind a door where she can’t see people, so I suggest a gate in the kitchen doorway where she can see who is arriving but not get to the front door.

First they can teach her, using family members, that when she hears the doorbell she goes into the kitchen where she’s rewarded and the gate is closed.

To start with there is no doubt that she will intensify her barking from behind the gate when she finds she’s unable to get to the person, but if they are steadfast they will overcome.

Now her fear and anxiety can be worked on properly. She can learn to associate callers with good stuff. Food can be  dropped over the gate. She can learn that she’s let out to join them in the hall when she has calmed down. People will be asked not to reach out to her while gets used to them. Once relaxed, she a wonderfully friendly dog.

Kiki is very scared of vehicles stopping outside her house and she used to be especially scared of the sound of the ice cream van. Every time she heard the jingle the family went out and bought her an ice cream. It wasn’t long before she began to LOVE the ice cream van jingle. This is the principal for Kiki’s family to use with people coming to the door – to associate them with good stuff and they have already experienced for themselves just how well this approach works.

If their eventual aim in the future is for Kiki to sit politely and calmly away from the door when someone arrives, that should be possible when she feels differently about it. This could be in several months’ time. It can be taken in very easy stages. First it will be sitting calmly behind the closed gate, then the open gate, then on a mat just in front of the gate and so on.

Whether or not they end up with a calm dog in the kitchen when someone arrives, or a calm dog standing or sitting back away from the front door, is not important in my opinion – what is important is that Kiki is happy and not scared or stressed, which will then be reflected in her behaviour.

Later: Theo revolutionised our approach with our rescue dog. She helped us connect with her & changed my ideas of ‘obedience’. After much input Kiki now rolls over for tummy tickles & sleeps upside down. The biggest change is in walks – instead of it being an obedience test we now both enjoy walks with her off lead in places & loving sniffing out her ‘messages’ from other dogs. Sometimes letting your dog choose is so rewarding & a different relationship builds. Thanks Theo
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Kiki.  Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).


Runs at People Entering the Door

Young chocolate labrador on his bedThe work with young Chocolate Labrador Chester is a little different to most others I work with.  Although he sleeps in the house at night, the rest of his life is in and around a farm, with a large working barn and an office the far end. His lady owner works in the office. This gives ‘home visit’ a slightly different dimension.

Chester is now ten months old and his charging and aggressive-sounding barking at people entering the barn door is causing concern. They have another, very elderly dog, who has always barked at people though in a less threatening manner and it’s very likely Chester is now following suit.

The inside of the building is huge and stocked with produce. From the back where the office is, the door people enter by is quite a distance from where Chester is likely to be – with the lady in the office. All will be quite peaceful until suddenly the far door opens and someone appears. It could be a worker, a customer or family. Chester will then rush at the person, barking, only stopping if it’s someone he knows and is comfortable with.

It’s understandable how in a farm environment dogs run freely and guard the place, but it’s hard to teach them to be selective especially when we are dealing with fear.

‘Sudden’ is one of the problems. In a mainly quiet environment there is no warning that someone is about to open that door. If people were constantly coming in and out I’m sure Chester would be cool with it.

When I arrived, although Chester charged at me, barking and with hackles raised, he immediately took food from my hand – he is a Labrador after all – and apart from one more spooked bark when I gave him eye contact a little too soon, he was a real softy.

In every other respect Chester really is perfect and amazingly calm and well-behaved for an adolescent. He has reliable basic obedience. All the work needs to revolve around changing his fear of people.

To start with it would be helpful if Chester was given some warning when a person was about to enter, so I suggest a bell. That alone won’t be enough – it repeatedly needs to be paired with food so that, with a special training ritual, Chester is conditioned such that he hears the bell and runs away from the door and to the lady in the office – for food. She can then train him to stay on his bed, or she can make the decision to keep him beside her and release him to greet the person when and if she (not Chester) so chooses.

Callers will be instructed to throw a tennis ball from a box outside as they walk into his view. Chester adores balls and the lady is fairly convinced that once he’s holding a ball he will relax. When they leave he has to give up the ball so he only gets it in the presence of a caller, the idea being that he eventually will welcome callers when he realises they are his only access to the special balls. If that doesn’t work they can use food.

Callers will be instructed to avoid eye contact and not to put hands out to touch him unless, later, he decides he’s comfortable enough to make friends. If they are people who are just passing through or if they are not keen on dogs, Chester can stay behind the gate in the office, on his bed and out of harm’s way.

The new dog laws now are such that in an environment like theirs, if a dog is even deemed to be a threat though never having bitten, the owner can be prosecuted. Apart from that, a dog that scares customers isn’t good for business.

Chester has problems, too, with people he sees out on walks. In a rural area and mostly on their own farmland, if they see someone it’s very noticeable. Both dogs and humans can understandably feel more exposed when isolated and it’s understandable why he feels unsafe and runs and barks at people. He could feel very different if ‘merging into the crowd’,

Instead of throwing Chester’s ball for him throughout the walk, they can reserve it for if they see a person. Not only will the ball get his attention, it will help to pair the sight of a person with something he really loves and also, if thrown in the opposite direction, it introduces a behaviour the very opposite of running towards them.

They have found that in a busy environment Chester is only reactive to people who come right up to him and try to touch him. They will deal with that appropriately now whilst exposing him to the busier outside world more regularly – but only at a level he can handle.

I am sure that with help, patience and work Chester’s confidence will now grow.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Chester. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Gun Dog Training or Force-Free?

Whilst harsh training methods may well Rufuswork in the moment, there is usually future fallout of some sort.

I may well get some people’s backs up, but here goes!

Dogs that are specifically trained and used as gun dogs are to my mind, a commodity. These dogs are trained specifically to do a job, they are often kept alone out in kennels and some have never seen the inside of a house. Usually they are very ‘obedient’ – possibly they dare not be otherwise.

(Please note that there are becoming more and more exceptions to this sweeping statement as gradually some gun dog breeders and schools are beginning to catch up with modern training methods).

There is no argument that many working dogs are a lot more fulfilled than those family pets who may be either left alone all day or over-spoilt. Many working dogs are trained positively and are treated as valued members of a family or at least have a close relationship with their handler. Assistance dogs and sniffer dogs come to mind in particular.

I have a gun dog breeding and training business near to me with probably around twenty dogs and in fact I got my cocker spaniel from there (that’s another story).  I saw first hand the dogs’ environment. Most of the dogs seemed submissive in general and a bit fearful of me when I stood by their caged areas. There were no bouncy, friendly welcomes that one might have expected from Labradors and Spaniels.

I was given a demo of the skills of three 4-6 month old dogs and they were certainly very obedient and were 100% focussed on the man even at that age. To be fair, they seemed to enjoy what they were doing but I guess their life didn’t hold a lot else by way of interaction with humans.

In saying their dogs are used as a commodity, I absolutely don’t include people who have family dogs that happen to take them to gun dog training classes because of their breed, like the owners of Rufus and of Bramble who I went to a few months ago. These conscientious dog owners do so because they believe it is the best for their dog on account of what he’s bred for.

A couple of years ago at Crufts there was a gun dog display of dogs trained to do gun dog things using positive reinforcement and it was a joy to watch these enthusiastic dogs – dogs that weren’t afraid of making mistakes. It proved it’s possible.

Rufus began with normal puppy classes. He met lots of people and lots of dogs – and became a happy and confident adolescent.  He then went to gun dog training for a year.

I don’t believe it’s purely coincidence that now, over a year since they stopped the classes, Rufus has become an increasingly nervous dog. The family members who attended the classes with him try to maintain the ‘firm’ approach and the other person lacks the same sort consistency and discipline, resulting in confusing mixed messages for the dog.

It’s like Rufus is waiting to be told what to do – external control. He doesn’t have much self-control.

Dogs that are trained to think for themselves using clicker or other positive reinforcement methods aren’t afraid to make mistakes. They become inventive and try different ways of getting their rewards and making us happy because they know they won’t be scolded or punished if they happen to get it wrong. The key to teaching a dog is not about making them do what we want, but making them WANT to do what we want.

It’s a big step for Rufus, now nearly four years old, to start thinking for himself. With clicker a ‘formally’ trained dog can take a long time to ‘get it’ before experiencing the fun of experimenting with what will bring results and what will not. If Rufus’ family persist they will eventually get a breakthrough. Then the possiblities of what he can learn for himself are boundless.

Gone now is the punishing and uncomfortable slip lead – like a choke chain, what can possibly be the purpose of this as opposed to a normal collar and lead, or a harness, apart from causing discomfort if a dog pulls?

We took turns to walk Rufus around outside on a harness with long lead clipped to the chest and he walked beside us like a different dog, round in circles, back and forth – a dream. If he wanted to stop for a sniff, why not?

In this comfortable state of mind, he is much more likely to be chilled when encountering unknown dogs or if a moped buzzes past.

Rufus is at the dawn of a new life, and his family will now work in unison to give him back his old confidence.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Rufus, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Boundaries and Out of Control

6-month old Chocolate Labrador Chocky is nervous and now copying the terriers' reactivity on walks


The two Terriers have killed a couple of their free-range chickens and although they have boundary wire, the little monkeys can dig underneath.

The people really only want two things at the end of the day. One is for the their dogs to be able to run freely in the garden. How can they do this when the boundaries aren’t secure?

My new clients have three young dogs – two Lakelend/Jack Russell mixes of one year old (brother and sister) who we will call Mac and Mabel, and a 6-month old Chocolate Labrador – Chocky.

They are a very busy family with insufficient time to put in all the work really needed, so this is a challenge of breaking things down into essentials, choosing priorities and creating a plan whereby it’s less a question of spending extra time but more of doing different things in the time already allocated.

One of the Lakeland/Jack Russell Terriers

Mac or Mabel

Their other aim is for the dogs to come back reliably when called. The Terriers are highly reactive to any person or animal they meet and respond aggressively, becoming hard to control physically. Now Chocky, an unusually nervous dog for a 6-month-old Labrador, is joining in. They want their dogs running off lead but have to be able to get them back when another dog, a horse or a person appears.

Unfortunately these people simply don’t have the time to work properly on the root of the problem – under-socialisation and the fear and reactivity itself, though they agree they need to do something with Chocky’s walking before he gets much older and bigger. He is seldom walked on lead. They live in such a quiet area that they can often go out and meet nobody at all.

As they simply don’t have time for all the training work involved, the first issues would be best addressed by getting better fencing so the dogs simply can’t escape from the garden, along with a pen for the chickens.

The second issue – that of recall – is more difficult.  Firstly, they need to stop leaving food down all the time (Chocky is an unusual Labrador in that he doesn’t devour the whole lot as soon as it goes down) so that food has some value – why should a dog come for no reward when called if it’s not worthwhile, particularly if there is something more pressing to do? The children can do whistle recall games around the house and garden so that the dogs begin to become conditioned. Whistle = come quickly = high value reward.

I have tried to break things down into small tasks so that hopefully, at the end of the day, everything will start to come together and they will be able to see their lovely dogs running free without constantly worrying about who or what they might encounter next.

Three months later: ‘We are continuing with the programme. Bella does’nt get so hysterical when she sees me now and I see I was causing this. We are having quality time together which I love. She really responds now to “Yes!”. The “abort the walk” thing has helped so much, I used to get so stressed if she would’nt walk, carrying her to the garden etc, but if she’s not bothered, then I’m not. As you say, its for life, and we are really committed to making her life happy.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Mac, Mabel and Chocky, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Frail Lady with Large Labrador

LilyThe elderly lady isn’t strong enough to walk a pulling dog.

Six months ago she took on Lily, a strong and active four-year-old Chocolate Labrador.

So long as she’s not stirred up, Lily is remarkably calm seeing as she has little in the way of stimulation or interest.

The lady is however having some predictable problems when out. She is unable to walk Lily on lead at all – fortunately she has fields at the end of her garden so Lily can run off lead but she can go nowhere else. The second predictable problem is that Lily doesn’t come when called – or at least not until she is ready.

When I arrived the lady was trying to hang onto Lily at the front door, afraid she might run out. She is small and  unsteady, and Lily is quite big!

I shall be visiting her weekly for a while and we are starting off slowly, a bit at a time.  She will, I hope, remember to reward Lily for doing what she’s asked as that should make her more manageable. Being a Labrador, Lily fortunately is very food orientated. She will shut Lily away from the front door before opening it.  I showed the lady how to ‘charge’ a whistle for recall use and how to use it around the house and garden only for this week so that Lily comes to realise that the whistle means something special by way of food reward. I showed her how to walk the dog around her nice garden on a long loose lead – and although she was very slow she we managed, my arm through hers, before she did it by herself – and Lily was a star.

Apart from physical frailty, the lady is forgetful and a bit confused so grasping and remembering my instructions is a challenge. Fortunately she lives very near to me so I will do everything I can to help her to keep her beautiful, happy dog without which she would be very lonely. She has never been without a dog.

Next week, if she has mastered lead walking out in the garden we will take walking out the front of the house. We will also do more with whistle recall.  I feel she will soon need a dog walker if she can afford one.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Lily and this lady, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Getting Used to the New Puppy

charliecocoJust twelve days ago I visited  10-year-old Chocolate Labrador Coco and new puppy Charlie http://www.dogidog.co.uk/?p=15651 . They knew things would be very difficult because Coco just doesn’t like other dogs full stop – they were expecting trouble. The initial introduction was a disaster but they have worked very hard since and here are the two dogs together.

The gentleman sent me this lovely photo today with these words:

“Coco is tolerating little Charlie much better than anticipated. He will sit with him now, he just doesn’t appreciate Charlie lunging into his face. Thank you Theo, we could not of done this without your help and recommendations…I am confident of that.”.

Coco looks reasonably relaxed but ‘tolerating’ is a good word to describe his body langage! I’m sure in another couple of weeks with owners who are careful we will see him angled more towards puppy Charlie and, as he gets used to puppy boisterousness he will actually invite interaction. I have asked for another photo when the time comes.

The Puppy Has Now Arrived!

Coco is becoming a bit more used to the puppy behind his barrier


I do love the variety in my job. I wrote about Coco (left) four weeks ago and about preparing him for the arrival of their new puppy: http://www.dogidog.co.uk/?p=15370.

Coco is a ten-year-old Chocolate Labrador who really isn’t good with other dogs. They even had to abandon a camping holiday a while ago because of Coco’s behaviour towards other dogs on the site! They called me out so that they could not only prepare him in the best way possible for a puppy, but also to make sure they start their new puppy off right and that he, unlike Coco, is well socialised with dogs and people from the start.

They have a chart and are ticking off Charlie’s encounters as they build up. They have now had him for about 6 days and he has met about twelve different people, so they are doing well.

Chocolate Labrador Puppy Charlie


After a scary start on introducing Charlie – I had hoped to be there but it didn’t work out – although he avoids him, Coco is becoming a bit more used to him behind his barrier. He no longer growls and hackles. Each time they feed Charlie they also feed Coco – one each side of the gate. They have actually done very well in just six days.

The gentleman is very anxious and I’m sure Coco will be picking up on this.  There is just a little danger that they are overdoing the ‘being nice to Coco’ so that they are on his case all the time.  They both need to chill!

With the couple sitting on the sofa and Coco on a loose lead, I went and fetched the puppy and popped a lead on him also. I walked Charlie about at an acceptable distance for Coco (watching him) and every time Coco looked at Charlie I threw him a treat which he happily ate, something he wouldn’t have done had he been particularly worried. If it looked at all like there was any stillness or staring, I got his attention by calling his name before throwing the treat.  At one point they were within a couple of feet of one another. We then called it a day. Little and often will progress things fastest.

I’m sure if the people can relax and play safe by keeping both dogs on lead or separate sides of the gate, it will be no time at all before they will be freely together – under supervision. Coco is too old now to appreciate being jumped on and climbed over. He was very close to their older dog that died a short while ago, so I’m sure he will also be fine with Charlie if he’s not pushed or over-fussed.